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Response improves for emergency services on new radio system

Last Updated Jun 28, 2019 at 5:35 am MDT

PHOTO. Supplied. Natalie McKay. Wood Buffalo RCMP Media.

Emergency services across the region are now on the same radio network, allowing for communication between services.

Regional Fire Chief Jody Butz said previously that the system worked “flawlessly” during the wildfire, which made for an easy decision to make the switch.

RCMP started using the Alberta First Responder Radio Communications System (AFRRCS) on June 23, 2018 and all other emergency services have now transitioned over, including Emergency Medical Services, Bylaw and fire departments.

“Once we have fully transitioned over the AFRRCS we will have the ability to oversee all our responders on scene should we have a person down event as the radios have an alarm that allows us to help staff and find them should something like that occur.” – Adam Hardiman, Stakeholder Relations, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

The municipality and the RCMP both said there are numerous improvements, noting that rural areas now have better coverage, communication and response.

A report released in October 2018 found that Indigenous communities in the region were excluded from operations during the wildfire.

The RCMP noted another benefit of AFRRCS is that members can’t talk over one another, allowing for all messages to get through and be heard.

The municipality hopes to get the emergency response call centre switched over to the system once it’s moved to Fire Hall no. 1.

As more municipalities in the province get on board with the system, emergency services in those areas will be able to easily communicate with other municipalities without the use of the Operational Call Centre (OCC).